Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Today marks the 200th year since the birth of Charles Dickens, born Feb 7, 1812 in England and passed over to the Other Side June 9, 1870. Considered the greatest of the Victorian authors, Mr. Dickens was one of many authors who at that time wrote stories for serialization, and to keep the readers interested he had to write in cliffhangers. This would bring the readers back the next time. Thus, he became quite accomplished in this art.
Charles Dickens also wrote poetry. One of his poems can be found at the end of this article. He was buried in Poet's Corner of Westminister Abbey. What an honor for a man who truly deserved it.
Charles Dickens was a master at creating unique characters. To say his stories are realistic is to understate his writings. Just read 'A Tale of Two Cities' and try to forget the many horrendous scenes he paints in that book. He wrote about the upheaval in France when the population had had enough and overthrew the government, resulting in the beheading of 16,000 to 40,000 by use of the guillotine while crowds of people cheered. He painted the hatred and the anger of citizens better than any other author could.
In 1842, Charles Dickens and his wife made a trip to the U.S. where he gave lectures, raising support for copyright laws and taking a stand on the abolishment of slavery, documenting the atrocities. In his work 'Martin Chuzzlewit,' he includes notes of his condemnation of slavery.
In 1846 Mr. Dickens set up a home for woman (Urania Cottage) for the redemption of fallen women. Up until then the women were put into homes that were harsh with cruel punishments. The idea of Urania Cottage was to teach these women basic skills like reading and writing and domestic household chores so they could be re-integrated into society. He even scoured prisons looking for women he thought could succeed in his program. It is estimated that at least 100 women graduated from this program. Many of his female characters developed from the women he met while interviewing them.
His great works include: A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, The Old Curiosity Shop, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and The Pickwick Papers, among others.
Dickens was truly a humanitarian with a deeper understanding of our mortal minds and the world around him than the majority of do-gooders.
Here are a few of my favorite Charles Dickens quotes:
Noone is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known - from 'A Tale of Two Cities'
We need never be ashamed of our tears - from 'Great Expectations'
Grief never mended no broken bones - from 'Sketches by Boz'
There is a passion for hunting deeply implanted in the human breast - from 'Oliver Twist'
Marley was dead, to begin with - A Christmas Carol
A passage from 'A Tale of Two Cities:'
-In a city dominated by the axe, alone at night, with natural sorrow rising in him for the sixty-three who that day had been put to death, and for tomorrow's victims then awaiting their doom in the prisons, and still of tomorrow's and tomorrow's, the chain of association that brought the words home, like a rusty old ship's anchor from the deep, might have been easily found. He did not seek it but repeated them and went on.-
Lucy's Song by Charles Dickens:
How beautiful at eventide
To see the twilight shadows pale,
Steal o'er the landscape, far and wide,
O'er stream and meadow, mound and dale!
How soft is Nature's calm repose
When ev'ning skies their cool dews weep:
The gentlest wind more gently blows,
As if to soothe her in her sleep!
The gay morn breaks,
Mists roll away,
All Nature awakes
To glorious day.
In my breast alone
Dark shadows remain;
The peace it has known
It can never regain.
Now, you know I can't end this without a youtube video or two, so first we have a scene from that marvelous musical, Oliver.
The next youtube is my absoulte favorite movie scene ever, from the musical Camelot with the brilliant actor Richard Harris as King Arthur, who himself sparkles through our Universe.
From the musical Camelot came this line:
PELLINORE: Who is that, Arthur?
ARTHUR: One of what we all are, Pelly. Less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea. (He smiles. There is jubilance in his voice) But it seems some of the drops sparkle, Pelly. Some of them do sparkle!
Indeed, is there anyone who would refute that Charles Dickens did and does sparkle through the motion of our Universe for now and for eternity.
And you know what, my dear friends? Each and every one of us do sparkle too. Each and every one of us.
Celebrate Charles Dickens' 200th year by reading one of his great stories.
LHR, friends. PAWS for Success, and sparkle as brightly as you can.